Future for local and regional media - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers 220-239)


27 OCTOBER 2009

  Q220  Mr Watson: If I could take you to page eight of the edition you have given us.

  Councillor Loveday: I do not have a copy of the paper.

  Q221  Mr Watson: It is an advertisement for Guta Ra Mwari's book who lectures us about his 12 lessons and 52 chapters of God's work. It is some form of religious advertising. If you have not got any guidelines, presumably you are happy with religious advertising.

  Councillor Loveday: Yes, I did see that earlier. I know nothing about this particular advertising.

  Q222  Mr Watson: You have not got a problem with religious advertising?

  Councillor Loveday: I am sure that there will be—

  Q223  Mr Watson: Would you take adverts from the Church of Scientology?

  Councillor Loveday: I do not think that has ever arisen as an issue.

  Q224  Mr Watson: Clearly newspapers have to work out their guidelines on this. You have not got any guidelines.

  Councillor Loveday: I am not sure they publish guidelines either of their advertising policies, and, of course, do not forget, our local newspapers do accept quite a lot of advertising for personal services, which I am sure would not be appropriate for most.

  Q225  Mr Watson: So you would not take personal services but you would take religious advertising?

  Councillor Loveday: One of the people who works on the paper works as an advertising manager, and I have no doubt that that would not be appropriate.

  Q226  Mr Watson: Really, it is down to the arbitrary decision of the person who takes the advertising; is that right?

  Councillor Loveday: Obviously, the statutory code contains quite a lot of restrictions on various matters.

  Q227  Mr Watson: Can I take you to the next page? There is a rather attractive deal for an XL pizza, garlic bread and a can of drink for £11 from Perfect Pizza, which, had it been in Westminster, I might have availed myself of it.

  Councillor Loveday: No doubt after today you will get a special delivery!

  Q228  Mr Watson: How much would that piece of advertising cost?

  Councillor Loveday: It is about £700.

  Q229  Mr Watson: How much does Hammersmith and Fulham spend health promotion and healthy eating, would you know?

  Councillor Loveday: As a local authority or including the PCT?

  Q230  Mr Watson: As a local authority.

  Councillor Loveday: I cannot put a figure on it, I am sorry.

  Q231  Mr Watson: You would not see a super carbohydrate, calorific feast like that as being in conflict with some other policies that other sections of the council might be promoting?

  Councillor Loveday: I am not aware that we have had any complaints about that at all, Mr Watson.

  Q232  Mr Watson: Gerald, I see you have Councillor Mike Hancock as one of the three councillors here. He is also an MP, is he not?

  Councillor Vernon-Jackson: He is indeed.

  Q233  Mr Watson: Has he ever purchased advertising news in his communications budget in this publication?

  Councillor Vernon-Jackson: No. It would not be appropriate. We do not go out for private adverts; we will work with our partners in the PCT, the police, the fire services, colleges, et cetera, but that is it.

  Q234  Mr Watson: Do you ever give equal prominence to Portsmouth's other MP?

  Councillor Vernon-Jackson: If she was a councillor and she was appearing in her role as councillor, then she would get exactly the same treatment as any other councillor.

  Q235  Mr Watson: You do not see this as some kind of political conflict of interest?

  Councillor Vernon-Jackson: No. We only have two Labour councillors left in Portsmouth now and, as you can see there, they get an undue prominence because they are treated as equal with everybody else.

  Q236  Mr Watson: I cannot quite remember my stats but is it fair to say that the constituency represented by Councillor Mike Hancock in his role as a Member of Parliament would be seen as a Liberal Democrat marginal seat?

  Councillor Vernon-Jackson: No; a Lib Dem safe seat would be a correct assumption.

  Q237  Mr Watson: I am sure Mr Loveday might have a different view on that.

  Councillor Vernon-Jackson: As Conservative councillors keep defecting to us and not delivering leaflets in most of the patch, I think the Conservative Party is in turmoil there and we have not had Labour councillors for many years.

  Q238  Mr Watson: Mr Loveday, I must apologise for giving the Liberal Democrat propagandist an unfair advantage.

  Councillor Loveday: Mr Watson, can I just mention one point? The political constraints, which are perfectly proper, do result in some very odd consequences. I will give you an example. I think we have already referred to it. It is in our newspaper at page 2. One can see there that a by-election took place. One can see the result of the by-election. The position that was taken by the editorial staff was that to go any further than simply reporting the bare numbers and the statutory declaration there would probably have gone beyond party political constraints. It is a very odd concept.

  Q239  Mr Watson: I think Mr Davies has probably covered this but, as you have tempted me, if you were arrested by the police for having a horse's head in your bed, do you think it might make the front page of the H&F News?

  Councillor Loveday: I am a lawyer. I would prefer to think of myself as Tom Hagen rather than the gentleman in the bed.

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